Top 20 Greatest Trash Talkers In Sports History

Trash talking has been an important, yet underrated aspect of sport for as long as people have been competing. The ability to talk trash can put opponents on tilt and cause them to make crucial mistakes they otherwise would not have made. Throughout the 20th century, fans have been drawn to individuals that can promote their abilities eloquently, while simultaneously bashing their opponents.

Trash talking can raise a player’s profile to legendary status and help them secure a place in their chosen sport’s history. While many of the athletes included on this list are already legendary, their loquaciousness earned them mainstream notoriety. When this happens, it not only raises an individual athlete’s profile, it can also raise the profile of an entire sport or team. Trash talking is a vital part of promotion for combat sports and can transform an otherwise pedestrian bout into a must-watch event.

When athletes are allowed to display their personalities in a positive manner, it helps them establish a connection with fans. Even if that comes at the expense of an opposing player, these athletes are creating important narratives and writing their own place in the history books. Many of them utilize their verbal skills to elevate their reputations beyond the reach of a typical sports superstar. Here are the 20 greatest trash talkers of all time that have eloquently transcended their competition.

20 Reggie Miller 

19 Chael Sonnen


18 Kobe Bryant

17 Chris Pronger


16 Mike Tyson  

15 Sean Avery


14 Chad Johnson

13 John McEnroe  

12 Floyd Mayweather Jr. 

11 Terrell Owens

10 Deion Sanders

9 Pedro Martinez  

8 Kevin Garnett

7 Shannon Sharpe  


6 Larry Bird

5 Conor McGregor

4 Steve Smith Sr.


3 Satchel Paige 


2 Michael Jordan

1 Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali is the greatest boxer and trash talker of all time. Ali was an expert self promoter, who often used a poetic flourish to boast while putting down his opponents. He started the trend of calling out the round in which he would knock out opponents. Ali’s quotes have inspired millions around the world and added to his lore. His braggadocio infuriated boxing fans during the Civil Rights era, while his protests against the Vietnam War drew the ire of the American government. He is undeniably the greatest, as he would proudly tell you to this day. Unfortunately, Parkinson’s Disease claimed many of his physical abilities, but not his ability to inspire future generations.


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Top 20 Greatest Trash Talkers In Sports History